The 7 Key Marketing Principles and How to Apply Them

Marketing is absolutely essential for your brand. But if you feel unsure of where to start, you aren’t alone. There’s a massive amount of work and thought that goes into a marketing strategy.

However, it’s helpful to have some guidelines to serve as a foundation — principles that could help you figure out the best course of action to market your company.

Today we’re talking about the seven marketing principles that can help you make business decisions as you market your brand. These include the 4 Ps (product, price, place, promotion) and a few additional ones that have been recently added to the marketing mix.

We’ll break down each one, providing a detailed definition as well as actionable advice and examples to help you know how to apply the principle to your brand.

 

What Are Marketing Principles?

The 7 key marketing principles are:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • People
  • Process (or Positioning)
  • Physical Evidence (or Packaging)

The classic principles of marketing, known as the 4 Ps, were initially defined several decades ago by a marketing professor at Harvard University. These principles — which consist of Product, Price, Place and Promotion — can be traced all the way back to the 1940s, and make up the set of resources that a company should use to market itself to its target audience.

While most people recognize the 4 Ps model, some use a version of these marketing principles that’s geared more toward consumers: Consumer, Cost, Convenience and Communication.

20 years later, researchers revisited these marketing principles and lengthened the list, creating 7 Ps in total. People, Process (or Positioning) and Physical Evidence (or Packaging) were added to the classic principles of marketing.

Since the first 4 Ps are more applicable to tangible products, these additional principles are helpful for service-based businesses. In some cases, people add even more principles — such as productivity and quality, or partners.

The 7 Ps should serve as a guide to help figure out the best marketing strategy for your business. These principles will help you make decisions about what to sell, who to sell it to and how to retain customers. Ultimately, they can leave a positive impact on your bottom line.

 

1 Product

The first of these seven marketing principles is product. A product can be defined as simply an item that addresses a consumer’s wants or needs. Some products are goods, or tangible objects.

Others — such as an experience — are intangible. If someone asked you what your company’s product is, you would probably be able to quickly reel off the details. (If not, you should be able to!) An important key here is that your product must meet the wants and needs of your customers.

How to Apply It

Conduct market research to make sure your product stands out. Market research is the process of obtaining information about your target market so you can understand whether a certain product will succeed. This will help you get an idea of whether there is a need for your product in the marketplace — if your product solves a problem your customer has.

You can conduct market research via methods like:

These are all great ways to better understand your target audience. From there, you’ll be able to make any necessary changes to your product so it will better meet their needs.

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2 Price

The second marketing principle is price. The price is simply the amount a consumer pays for a product. Coming up with your pricing, however, isn’t always that easy.

It takes careful market research to understand what your competitors are charging for comparable products, what your customers expect to pay for your product and what you should actually charge.

How to Apply It

Coming up with your pricing can be a tricky task. Start by calculating the costs needed to create your product and bring it into the market. Make sure to add up not only the goods you need to make your product, but any materials used for promotion and packaging as well as the production time.

Next, put your profit margin on top of that number. Figure out what percentage of profit margin you want to earn. Then divide your total variable costs (the number you came up with in the first step) by one minus your desired profit margin. Finally, you’ll add in the fixed costs associated with running your business.

This pricing method is known as cost-plus pricing. It works because it’s sustainable long term. Over time, you can work off of this base price to allow for trends or how your product is priced compared to your competitors’ products. But this initial number will give you a place to start.

 

3 Place

Place is the location where your product is available for consumers to purchase. Place is all about providing access for the consumer. It doesn’t have to be a physical, brick-and-mortar store; it could also be a website or other online location.

One out of every four people shops online. The key is to make your products as accessible as possible so the buying journey will be convenient for consumers.

How to Apply It

Think about the distribution channels where your product is offered. In what places or what ways do you sell your product? And, importantly, are these the places where your target audience spends their time? Think bigger than your store and consider where else you could market your product — such as a trade show, festival or another local store.

Similarly, if you’re selling online, you don’t have to stop with your website. Depending on the nature of your product, you might also consider selling on:

  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • Shopify
  • Bonanza
  • eBay
  • Handshake
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

Jewelry shop Love Stylize sells its products on its own website — but you can also make a purchase from Instagram. This helps the brand reach more people with another point of sale.

 

4 Promotion

Promotion is the marketing communications put out by your brand. Your promotional efforts should be geared toward your target audience. Your goal is to make them aware of who you are and what you have to offer. Then you can start to move them through the sales funnel.

There are several types of promotional marketing strategies, including:

  • Social media marketing. Platforms might include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or TikTok depending on your brand audience.
  • Public relations. Public relations is a way to manage how the public views your brand.
  • Email marketing. Send marketing emails and/or email newsletters to help leads move through the sales funnel.
  • Content marketing. This is typically long-form content such as blog posts, videos, ebooks, podcasts or webinars.
  • Advertising. Advertise your company through radio, television, mobile ads or other types of ads.
  • Search marketing. SEO, or search engine optimization, can help your website rank more highly in search engine results.
  • Direct marketing. With direct marketing, you go straight to your ideal customer to communicate with them.
  • Sales promotion. A sales campaign is a special offer designed to stir up interest around your product.

A healthy digital marketing strategy draws on many types of promotion.

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How to Apply It

When you promote your brand, include both explicit promotions and content that simply seeks to provide value. In addition to finding the right promotional balance, you’ll need to figure out what you are communicating (your message) and how often to communicate it.

Spotify is an example of a brand with an excellent overall marketing strategy. This well-known music app uses data to design creative campaigns that speak directly to users.

The company does a good job of getting on top of social media trends. And what’s more personalized than your Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year? These shareable campaigns cement brand loyalty and provide exposure to a new audience.

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5 People (or Positioning)

The people you’re selling to — and the people in your company who are doing the selling — are an important aspect of marketing. Whether the “people” you’re referring to are customers interacting with your brand or the employees who make the magic happen, people are a component of your marketing that you can’t overlook.

Some researchers prefer to use the word Positioning instead. This refers to positioning the product correctly to get it in front of the right audience.

How to Apply It

Implement this marketing principle by improving your customer service. For a retail store, focus on training all employees (even the ones who may feel as if customer service isn’t their job) on any new products and the latest deals.

They should be encouraged to address customers by name, and they should always be willing to go the extra mile for a customer. Having a “script” for employees to fall back on in common situations can help.

Customer service for ecommerce looks a little different. Respond as quickly as possible to any message or complaints, using digital tools to help your team keep messages organized.

Consider providing a self-service option with a chatbot (like Sephora’s chat option shown below) or portal. At the end of the day, however, the same principles apply: Be personal, friendly and as helpful as humanly possible.

 

6 Process

Process is what happens behind the scenes as you create your product or service. From the employees who are doing the hands-on work, to the employees who sit in offices answering emails, it’s all part of your business’ process.

This principle can also refer to the entire customer experience journey — the service a customer receives from your company, from start to finish. Your goal is to make this process as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

How to Apply It

Optimize your internal processes to help your team work more efficiently. Streamlining your workflow will increase productivity as well as improving the quality of the work.

Analyze your current workflow and go from there to improve. Consider introducing automation, or creating resources to train new employees so they can easily jump on board the processes you’ve already instilled.

Improve the process of a customer’s journey by doing the same thing — analyzing what the customer journey looks like for your average customer and then introducing changes that will help.

A CRM (customer relationship management platform) is a good way to standardize customer communication. Your goal is to have a reliable customer experience, with each and every customer receiving the same great service.

 

7 Physical Evidence (or Packaging)

Physical evidence consists of anything your customer sees or experiences when interacting with your business. Is your store clean and bright? Is your website well-designed and optimized for browsing? Do you have good customer reviews? These can all serve as signals to a potential customer that you’re a reputable business and you’ll be easy to work with.

If you’re a service-based business, physical evidence becomes especially important. Physical indicators of your product might include things like your website or business cards.

It’s essential for these pieces of evidence to be right on brand and to align with the rest of your marketing. Since customers may not be able to view a tangible item before converting, it’s important to provide as much evidence as you can to convince them to take the plunge.

Some researchers add Packaging as the final principle of marketing. In this case, they’re referring to the way that your products (or services) are presented to customers. 72% of US consumers say that a product’s packaging design has an impact on their decision to buy. It’s clear that packaging is extremely important.

How to Apply It

Physical evidence can be almost anything. It might be five-star customer reviews. Or an immediate response to a customer service message. Or a deliverable that’s turned in well ahead of time. This marketing principle will vary from industry to industry and business to business. Essentially, however, anytime you do your work well, this counts as physical evidence for your company.

To put the alternate seventh principle, Packaging, into practice, consider the following tips. First, make sure the packaging of a single product makes sense within your entire brand strategy. All packaging should be on-brand and reflect not only the product itself, but also your overall brand.

Keep things clear and simple, using just a few main colors or selling points. And of course, the packaging should be functional, too — after all, its primary job is to get the product safely to its end destination.

Halo Top Creamery is a great example. This ice cream brand adds its logo on top of the carton. Each carton of ice cream uses an illustration of an ice cream cone with warm, bright colors that match up with the flavor inside.

And the nutritional information — which is probably the main piece of information consumers want to know before digging in — is featured prominently on the front.

 

Put These Marketing Principles into Practice

Ready to put these marketing principles into practice? We are, too!

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